“To me, time in the kitchen was like a loophole, a bubble, a cure. Once I found it, I crawled inside and told myself I never wanted to leave.”
-Amy Thielen, Give a Girl a Knife
Hey guys! As you’ve probably noticed, I don’t tend to read much non-fiction. But when the lovely people at Crown Publishing had the memoir Give a Girl a Knife by Amy Thielen on their list to request, I jumped at it!
I don’t think I’ve ever read a memoir before, so I was intrigued to see what I’d make of this one.
Here’s the blurb:
Before Amy Thielen frantically plated rings of truffled potatoes in some of New York City’s finest kitchens-for chefs David Bouley, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten-she grew up in a northern Minnesota town, home to the nation’s largest french fry factory, the headwaters of the fast-food nation, with a mother whose generous cooking dripped with tenderness, drama, and an overabundance of butter.
Inspired by her grandmother’s tales of cooking in the family farmhouse, Thielen moves north with her artist husband to a rustic, off-the-grid cabin deep in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads her to the sensory madhouse of New York’s top haute cuisine brigades. But, like a magnet, the foods of her youth draw her back home, where she comes face-to-face with her past and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions.
Amy Thielen’s coming-of-age story pulses with energy, a cook’s eye for intimate detail, and a dose of dry Midwestern humour. Give a Girl a Knife offers a fresh, vivid view into New York’s high-end restaurants before returning Thielen to her roots, where she realises that the marrow running through her bones is not demi-glace but gravy-thick with nostalgia and hard to resist.
See what I mean? Even the blurb promises a foodie heaven wrapped neatly into each sentence. And this book delivers on that promise.
Despite it being non-fiction and not what I’m used to, I found this book surprisingly easy to get into and compulsive reading. It was charming and fast-paced and offered a glimpse into a life that I find fascinating, although I think being a line cook would definitely stress me out way too much!
I adored the setting, both the rural Midwestern hometown of Thielen’s, along with the depictions of life in the rustic cabin in the woods, as well as the frenetic pace of New York’s fine dining scene. This memoir was gorgeously written and a deeply enjoyable insight into another person’s life and experiences. I loved the theme running throughout the book, of Thielen’s search for her culinary roots, and where and what home meant to her. It’s a theme that I think most people can relate to, especially if they’ve lived in a few different places.
Thielen’s knowledge of food is impossibly vast, but the beautiful descriptions of the various dishes draw you in whether you’re much of a cook or not. You definitely have to be a foodie to enjoy reading this one, however, as there are way more descriptions of food than I was expecting-something that absolutely thrilled me as I happen to adore reading about food, but if you’re interested in other aspects of this memoir, then prepare for the food overload!
Overall, I’m giving Give a Girl a Knife 5/5 stars as it seriously hooked me in and was a lovely read that I couldn’t help but salivate over. Try this one if you’re a foodie like me! Don’t let the fact that it’s a non-fiction put you off, as it is charming and fun to read, and I ended up reading it quite quickly. Just be prepared with reading snacks! You WILL need them! Thanks again to Crown Publishing for sending me this one!
Who else loves reading foodie books? What are the best foodie books you’ve read?